#WorkMakesMe

30th September 2016

OPERATIONS

We all struggle, from time to time, with the thought of going to work.

At the end of a week on the beach or Bank Holiday weekend, it can be particularly difficult to walk back into the office.

Some have the careers that they’ve always dreamed of. Even then, they’d often rather be at home.

For a majority, a job pays the bills and will never be anything special.

Work will never compare to a lazy afternoon sitting by the stream enjoying picnic with your toddler, or a night in the bar with your friends, but what’s a healthy dislike of work and what’s something to raise the alarm about?

Is it right that these are Google’s most popular suggestions?
workmakesme

Have we created a culture where it’s normal to hate your job?

Have you heard of Hump Day?

It’s a nickname given to Wednesday.

Having a Hump Day implies that you spend Monday and Tuesday miserably climbing to the top of the hill, but once you’ve reached Wednesday you’ll be racing back to the weekend.

On Facebook and Twitter, you’ll come across dozens of posts about how hard Monday morning can be.
Here are a few quotes that you might recognise:

  • “In three hours, I’ll have five hours left.”
  • “If I died and went straight to hell, it would take me a week to realise I wasn’t at work any more.”
  • “Oh, so you hate your job? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY.”
  • “Can’t enjoy Sunday. Too anxious thinking about Monday.”
  • “One does not simply be happy on a Sunday night”.

We’re constantly bombarded with messages about miserable Sunday nights. We’re told that it’s normal to be desperate for the end of the working day, as soon as you’ve stepped into the workplace.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the belief that everyone hates their job.

Is it time to speak out and get help?

Nobody should have a panic attack thinking about work. You shouldn’t be lying in bed, crying into your pillow, after a hard day in the office.
Some jobs are more emotionally draining than others.

Hearing a desperate 999 call and trying to keep a mother calm will never be the same as serving customers at a toy shop, but good mental health should not be sacrificed to pay your monthly bills.

We asked people to speak out about the things that they find hard at work. All of these are real quotes from real people like you, with their identities protected.

How many of these can you relate to?

We hope to get you thinking about your own #WorkMakesMe experience.

Natalie says:

 “I get so upset and worried. I’m not understood.
I went part-time due to health problems. I’m being bullied and it makes my life hell.
I’m getting nasty comments on Facebook, so it’s followed me home.
The job is great, but I’m miserable when I think about work. I’m constantly wondering what they’ll blame me for next.
When I had to go off sick, I was treated like I was letting them all down because they had to work harder. I was told I was a slacker.
It’s not the manager doing this. It’s the other members of staff, making me feel like I’m ruining work for them because they have to cover for me”.

Our response:

It’s hard enough to be bullied at work. Now that we’re all online, this bullying can follow us home.

Workplace bullying isn’t acceptable. It can lead to depression.

The Workplace Bullying Institute, over in the US, found in 2012 that 52% of people experience panic attacks as a result. 49% were diagnosed with clinical depression. 29% of the 1000 respondents said that they had thought about suicide.

There is no clear definition of workplace bullying, but if it is impacting on your health then it is important to talk about what’s happening.

First, check your company’s bullying and harassment policy. This might feature in an employee manual, rather than as a separate document. If you can’t find it, ask someone in HR for a copy.

A company policy will outline how your employer deals with workplace bullying. It will tell you what step to take next. You will probably need to have a conversation with your manager or the HR team.

Keep a diary of every incident. Record the date, time, who was involved and what happened. Be sure to also mention any witnesses. If you are being bullied on social media, take screenshots to keep as evidence.

In an ideal world, all workplace bullying would be resolved informally. A conversation with your manager may be enough to make a bully stop and think about their behaviour. You may need some form of mediation, with third party intervention.

Of course, if you’re being bullied by a group then it might be harder to stop.

If the bullying is not dealt with, there are further steps that you can take.

You can make a formal complaint, in writing. The company that you work for is legally responsible for acting on any complaints. They have the right to follow the dismissal process, to remove a workplace bully if the situation cannot be resolved.

If a formal complaint is not enough, you can take legal action at an employment tribunal.

The Acas helpline could provide you with the information that you need to stop workplace bullying, or at least ensure that the bullies don’t get away with their behaviour. Call Acas on 0300 123 1100.

Lianne says:

 “I constantly feel stressed.
I’m the last link in the chain. Other teams don’t keep to the timescales, so I don’t have sufficient time within my working day.”

Our response:

When you’re given too much work, the pressure quickly piles on.

Many people find themselves staying late to get things finished, or spending their time at home feeling guilty.

It is important to remember that, if you are working to the best of your ability, then your workload is not your fault.

Remember not to blame other employees. They may be as overwhelmed as you. If everyone along the chain is struggling, then the problem is compounded by the time it reaches you. Others may have the same issue, which indicates that workload pressures are happening across the board.

UK law states that you cannot work more than 48 hours per week, on average. Some weeks may be busier than others, but you should not be working more than 48 hours each week. If you are staying late, it may be that you are being pushed over this limit.

Also remember to look at the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage. If you are not being paid for any extra hours that you do, then your wage or salary will be spread over a longer working week. It’s possible that you’re earning less per hour than you should be.

Once the practicalities are covered, the problem must be dealt with. It may be that you are not working extra hours, but feel continually stressed through the day.

This can be one of the hardest problems to deal with. How do you prove that it is a workload issue, and not that you’re working too slowly?
Keep a work diary, showing what you’re doing and when, to use as evidence if it’s requested.

When you receive a piece of work, write down what is involved and how close you are to the deadline. Unrealistic expectations will quickly show up on paper.

Arrange a meeting with your manager. They’ll need to be made aware. Ideally, they’ll take action to reduce your workload immediately.
If your manager can’t immediately reduce your workload, then they should take time to find out what is causing a delay. Is it an excessive workload at the start of the chain, a series of slightly late deliveries adding up over time, or one person letting the team down?

A written complaint is often needed to encourage an employer to take action.

It may be that your employer will need to hire more permanent or temporary staff, or could require freelance workers and outsourcing agreements. Alternatively, a better solution may be a change to processes or training to improve staff efficiency.

If you are a member of a union, they may be able to support you with complaints about workload.

Debora says:

 “I do enjoy working, but I often think it’s not worth it.
I have a toddler, and the stress of getting her ready and making her eat her lunch, then getting her to nursery and rushing to work, is all just too much!
I have to fit in all of the jobs at home, plus caring for and teaching my daughter, and I feel rushed all the time. I constantly have one eye on the clock, and when my toddler is ill I dread calling my manager just to receive comments about my lack of childcare.”

Our response:

The work/life balance is difficult enough, without children added in to the mix.

Many parents wonder if being employed is really worth it.

Being a working mum, or a working dad, can mean that you’re missing out on milestones and quality time with your child. It’s a situation made worse when you’re spending so much on childcare, paying someone else to look after your child with the money that you’ve earned in the workplace.

From a financial perspective, the first thing to do is make sure that you’re claiming any support that you’re entitled to.

Does your workplace provide a childcare voucher scheme?

Many companies can give their employees childcare vouchers, up to a value of £55 per week. This is an alternative to cash, so it reduces how much you are paid but will be tax-free and National Insurance exempt. You could save more than £800 per year, if you make use of childcare vouchers.

When your child is ill, your employer must give you reasonable time off. This does not mean that they give you the full day off to care for your child, but should give you an hour or two to make alternative arrangements. You should also get time off for a visit to your GP.

If you have to take further time off, your employer may require that you use your annual leave or sick day allowance to cover it.

Your employer doesn’t need to pay you for time off when you’re caring for your child. Some choose to, but it isn’t a requirement.

If your child is at school or nursery, and you receive a call and need to go and see them, then you can leave work for an hour or two.

Your employer might not be happy with any time off that you have to take, but they should not discriminate against you because you have a dependent. This means that they must continue to treat you fairly and cannot dismiss you as a result. Your employer will also need to agree to any required time off, as long as it isn’t unreasonable.

You may evaluate and decide that time away from your child, and the stress of balancing family life, is simply not worth your take-home pay. If that’s the case, it could be time to hand in your notice.

A career break is a reasonable option, and your partner may even be able to negotiate a slightly higher wage. Read on for tips that could help you to keep your household income on track.

Amy says:

 “Money issues are affecting me.
I don’t feel that I’m earning enough for what I do, and I’m struggling with debt at the moment.
I’m not sure how to ask my manager for a pay rise.
I’m finding things even worse because I’ve discovered that another member of my team is earning more than me.”

Our response:

Whilst debt problems aren’t strictly a work issue, they can certainly affect you in the workplace.

The stress of dealing with debt will spill into every area of your life.

It can be hard to ask your manager for a salary review or pay rise, even if you know that others on your team are earning more for doing the same work.

You may feel that you need your employer to know that you’re struggling financially. You may even be considering looking elsewhere for work, in search of a higher wage.

First, it may help to know that you have a right to equal pay. This means that your employer should pay you the same amount as others that do the same job. Unfortunately, it isn’t that straight forward. Even with the same job title and job role on paper, two people may do slightly different tasks.

An employer can also, legally, recruit someone new at a higher starting salary. If you’ve been working at a company for a while, then there is a good chance that a new recruit is earning more money than you.

If you are being paid less than your colleague sitting next to you, who was employed at the same time and is doing the same work, then you have a right to ask for equal pay. This includes the right to claim backdated payments for up to six years.

A union representative may be able to help with pay negotiations, if you can’t convince your employer on your own.

If your employer refuses all negotiations, then you may be able to take legal action with an employment tribunal.

Rights don’t always need to come into the discussion. Negotiating a pay rise is still an option, even without legal entitlement.

Before asking for a salary review, you should have statistics about the average market salary and why you are a valuable employee. Figures make all the difference.

If you can’t negotiate a pay increase, would you be happy being offered paid overtime or given permission to take a second job?

Elaine says:

 “A lack of appreciation is a big issue.
I feel like the work I’m doing isn’t appreciated, which is really bad for motivation and, honestly, it has an impact on customer service.
There’s a real lack of company direction. Even when I do the work, the goalposts often change. Suddenly, something that was important last week is never going to be used. It means that I waste hours on a project that’s abandoned.  And I never get thanked for any of it.”

Our response:

Some people don’t care about what their employer does with their work, as long as they’re being paid for it. But for most, doing work for no reason can have a very negative impact.

Many people feel undervalued and believe that their time has been wasted. Often it’s not about the time, but the mental effort put into a piece of work that’s simply discarded or ‘set aside for later’.

If people don’t feel good about what they’re doing at work, it’s reflected in their productivity. They’ll learn to care less and do less, because 100% effort has never been appreciated. Then, these workers feel guilty and upset. Nobody likes losing motivation!

Unfortunately, there are no laws stating that your employer needs to wander over and say “thanks” once in a while, or that they have to use every piece of work that you do.

Many people quit their jobs and move elsewhere, as a result of being underappreciated.

Speaking to your boss could be awkward. You probably don’t want to ask them to praise or reward you, but if they don’t see a problem then they definitely won’t be able to fix it. See if others are feeling the same, because this will show your boss that you’re not alone in your thinking.

If you are tackling this situation alone, ask your employer if there is anything that is not meeting their expectations. This will alert them to the problem, whilst potentially alerting you to goals and areas for improvement.

What’s your #WorkMakesMe?

How does your job make you feel?

Do you spring out of bed on a Monday, excited for what’s to come, or do you hit the ‘snooze’ button and wish that you could hide away forever?

Whether it’s positive or negative, we want to hear YOUR #WorkMakesMe today.

Written by Sue Crow

Office Manager - Staff Squared

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